Tag Archive: river


Goddess Sequana

Artwork by John Shannon

“Sequana’s themes are wishes, youthfulness, luck, health, and movement.  Her symbols are ducks and boats.  A Celtic river Goddess, Sequana flows in with April showers, raining good health and improved fortunes upon us. Statuary of Her shows Sequana standing in a duck-shaped boat (the duck is Her sacred animal) with open arms ready to receive our prayers.

Children in France run merrily to the Rhine River around this date to launch miniature boats with candles inside. Each boat represents life’s voyage being filled with joy. Anyone finding a boat later may make a wish as they bring it to shore. This is a charming custom that you can re-create if you have a stream, river, pond or lake nearby. Or, fill a children’s pool with water. Make a wish to Sequana  as you launch your boat. Putting the boat on the water invokes Sequana’s happiness and motivational energy for achieving a personal goal. Coax the boat toward a friend or partner on the other side so they can make a wish!

If neither of these options works out, float a rubber ducky in your bathtub and soak in Sequana’s revitalizing waters. Add to the bath pantry herbs that match your goals. For wishes add sage, for youthful energy add rosemary, for luck, allspice, for health, fennel, and for movement, ginger. No time for a bath? Make these five herbs into a tea and quaff them to internalize Sequana’s powers for the day.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

In Gallo-Roman religion, Sequana  (pronounced sek-oo-ANN-a) was the Goddess of the river Seine, particularly the springs at the source of the Seine, and the Gaulish tribe the Sequani. Her name means “the fast-flowing one” and is also seen as Sequanna, Siquanna, and Secuana.

The springs, called the Fontes Sequanae (“The Springs of Sequana”) are located in a valley in the Châtillon Plateau, to the north-west of Dijon in Burgundy, and it was here, in the 2nd or 1st century BCE, that a healing shrine was established. Her waters were believed to heal physical infirmities, especially diseases of the eye.  “As in many other cases to be river-Goddess meant that you were strongly connected to a role as healer (see also for example Sulis)” [1].

This bronze figure of the Goddess Sequana was discovered in 1937.  The statue is some eighteen inches high. Photographer: DAVID ARNOLD/National Geographic Stock

The sanctuary was later taken over the by Romans, who built two temples, a colonnaded precinct and other related structures centered on the spring and pool and continued Her worship.  Many dedications were made to Sequana at Her temple, including a large pot inscribed with Her name and filled with bronze and silver models of parts of human bodies to be cured by Her. Wooden and stone images of limbs, internal organs, heads, and complete bodies were offered to Her in the hope of a cure, as well as numerous coins and items of jewellery. Respiratory illnesses and eye diseases were common. Pilgrims were frequently depicted as carrying offerings to the Goddess, including money, fruit, or a favorite pet dog or bird.  [2] [3]

“The only surviving image of Sequana is a large bronze statue of a woman draped in a Romanesque gown and with a diadem on Her head who stands on a boat, the prow of which was shaped like the head of a duck. This statue can now be seen in the Museé Archeologique de Dijon. Though duck lore is scarce in later Celtic writing it may be, by association with Sequana as a healing water Goddess that the duck was also associated with healing cults. Indeed, inscriptions at the site thanking Sequana for Her gift of healing conclusively prove that Fontes Sequanae was a healing center and Sequana Herself was a healing Goddess.

From other surviving inscriptions it would seem that Sequana’s sanctuary was usurped by Christianity and re-dedicated to a supposed male saint, St. Sequanus so that the healing cult of the Goddess continued, only in a different guise. The Goddess is also invoked as Siquanna at Saint-Germain-la-Feuille, Côte d’Or, France.” [4]

Sources:

DameBoudicca. Pride & Sensibility, “Goddess of the week – Sequana“.

Nemeton: The Sacred Grove, Home of the Celtic gods, “Sequana: A Gaulish Goddess, also known as Secuana, Siquanna: The Fast-flowing One“.

Sabrina. Goddess A Day, “Sequana“.

Wikipedia, “Sequana“.

Suggested Links:

Dashu, Max. The Suppressed Histories Archives: real women, global vision, “Gaels and Gauls“.

Davidson, Hilda Ellis. Roles of the Northern Goddess.

An Inner Journey: The Moon, Mythology, and You, “Sequana“.

Floyde, Marilyn. Burgundytoday.com,History of Burgundy – The Celts“.

Jackson, James Warren. James Warren Jackson’s Notes from Penhook, “Sequana, Celtic River Goddess“.

Luke, Coral.  This French Life, “The Mystery of the Goddess Sequana“.

Goddess Sarasvati

“Goddess Saraswati”

“Sarasvati’s themes are learning, wisdom and communication.  Her symbols are white flowers (especially Lotus), marigolds and swans. A Hindu Goddess of eloquence and intelligence, Sarasvati extends a refreshing drink from her well of knowledge to complete the month with aptitude. In Hindu tradition, Sarasvati invented all sciences, arts and writing. In works of arts she is depicted as white-skinned and graceful, riding on a swan or sitting on an open lotus blossom.

Today is an excellent time to embark on any course of study or to reinforce your learning in a specific area. In Hindu tradition, Sarasvati’s festival is held on or around this date. During the celebration, students gather in the Katmandu Valley (Nepal) bearing gifts for the Goddess, who visits here today. Traditional offerings at the temples include lotus and marigold blossoms and incense, while students often bring pens or books to invoke Sarasvati’s aid with their studies.

Adapting this a bit, try dabbing your personal tools or educational books with a little lotus oil, and burn any sweet-scented incense to improve your awareness (rosemary is a good choice).

To generate Sarasvati’s assistance in matters of communication, find a white flower and remove its petals. Place these in any moving water source, saying something like:

‘Sarasvati, let my words bear gentle beauty and truth
falling lightly on other’s ears
even as these petals to the water.’

Let the water (which also represents this Goddess) carry your wish.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

Patricia Monaghan wrote: “As every Hindu god must have a Shakti, or enlivening female force, to function, so Brahma the creator needed Sarasvati for the world to come into being. She is not only the water Goddesses, one of the trinity that also includes Ganga and Yamuna, but She is also the Goddess of eloquence, which pours forth like a flooding river.

Inventor of all the arts and sciences, patron of all intellectual endeavors, Sarasvati is the very prototype of the female artist. She invented writing so that the songs She inspired could be recorded; She created music so the elegance of her being could be praised. In her identity as Vach, Goddess of speech, She caused all words to come into being, including religious writings. Sometimes it is said that She is the rival of Laksmi, Goddess of material wealth; if anyone has the favor of one Goddess, the other will turn away so that no one is ever blessed with both Sarasvati’s genius and Laksmi’s blessing” (p. 273).

Saraswati, known as Sraosha in Zoroastrianism is the guardian of earth. Sraosha (“obedience”) is also the wife and messenger of Ahura Mazda, and her role as the “Teacher of Daena”, Daena being the hypostasis of both “Conscience” and “Religion”. She also guides the souls of the deceased to find their way to the afterlife. Her symbolic animal is the peacock, whose crowing calls the pious to their religious duties. She is also called Druga for fighting off Drug (Drug, the name for female demon in ancient Veda, from the Sanskrit root druh “to be hostile”). The name Druga is made of Sanskrit dru or dur “with difficulty” and gā or jā (“come”, “go”). Saraswati is known as a guardian deity in Buddhism who upholds the teachings of Gautama Buddha by offering protection and assistance to practitioners. She is known in Burmese as Thurathadi or Tipitaka Medaw, Chinese as Biàncáitiān (辯才天), in Thai as Surasawadee (สุรัสวดี) and in Japanese as Benzaiten (弁才天/弁財天). In the East Indian states of Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa: Saraswati is considered to be a daughter of Lord Shiva and Durga along with her sister Lakshmi and her brothers Ganesha and Karthikeya. [1]

It is believed that Goddess Saraswati endows human beings with the powers of speech, wisdom and learning. She has four hands representing four aspects of human personality in learning: mind, intellect, alertness and ego. [2]

“Sarasvati is one of the many faces refelceted in the image of the Divine Mother.  Called the Goddess of the Word, Sarasvati means “the one who gives the essence (Sara) or our own Self (Swa).”  She is also known as the Goddess of Learning and is the consort (wife) of the Hindu God Brahma (the Creator).

Considered knowledge itself personified as a feminine deity, Sarasvati is closely identified with culture, language, speech, wisdom, intellect, creativity and inspiration.  She contains all forms within Her, pervades all creation and is the power of intellegence and thought.” [3]  She is the Goddess of eloquence, and words pour from Her like a sweetly flowing river. One myth of this Goddess is that She is a jealous rival of the Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, and that pursuing wealth alone will assure that Sarasvati’s gifts will desert you.

“She holds in her four hands a vina instrument, an akshamala (prayer beads) in the right hand, and a pustaka (book) in the left, which represents the knowledge of all sciences. Holding the book or scriptures in one hand also indicates that this knowledge alone can bring us to the Truth. The vina shows the beauty of learning the fine arts. Playing her vina, she tunes the mind and intellect with her knowledge, and thus the seeker can be in harmony with the universe. The prayer beads represent all spiritual sciences, like meditation and japa (chanting the holy names of God), and, being held in the right hand, that it is more important than the secular knowledge contained in the book in her left hand. Her four arms represent her unrestricted power in the four directions. She also represents creativity, or the combination of power and intelligence, the basis of creativity.” [4]

The following popular ‘pranam mantra’ or Sanskrit prayer, Saraswati devotees utter with utmost devotion eulogizes the goddess of knowledge and arts:

Om Saraswati Mahabhagey, Vidye Kamala Lochaney |

Viswarupey Vishalakshmi, Vidyam Dehi Namohastutey ||
Jaya Jaya Devi, Charachara Sharey, Kuchayuga Shobhita, Mukta Haarey |
Vina Ranjita, Pustaka Hastey, Bhagavati Bharati Devi Namohastutey ||

The beautiful human form of Saraswati comes to the fore in this English translation of the Saraswati hymn:

“May Goddess Saraswati,
who is fair like the jasmine-colored moon,
and whose pure white garland is like frosty dew drops;
who is adorned in radiant white attire,
on whose beautiful arm rests the veena,
and whose throne is a white lotus;
who is surrounded and respected by the Gods, protect me.
May you fully remove my lethargy, sluggishness, and ignorance.”
[5]

I had to throw this in.  Looking at the Hindu Sarasvati, Goddess of learning and the creative arts, She bears some striking resemblances to Brigit, as well as some important differences. Click here to read further in exploring  the image of Sarasvati as She appears in the Vedas and is developed in later Hinduism, compared images of  Brigit.

Sources:

Das, Subhamoy. About.com, “Saraswati: Goddess of Knowledge & Arts“.

Knapp, Stephen. Stephen-knapp.com, “Sarasvati, the Goddess of Learning“.

Prophet, Elizabeth & Mark L. Sacredwind.com, “Sarasvati“.

Wikipedia, “Saraswati“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Faerywillow. Thegoddesstree.com, “Sarasvati“.

Wood, Hilaire. Brigitsforge.co.uk, “Sarasvati, Brigit and the Sacred Word“.

Yarber, Angela. Feminismandreligion.com, “Painting Saraswati By Angela Yarber“.

Goddess Ganga

"The Descent of Ganga" by Om Prakash Saini

“Ganga’s themes are cleansing, health and mercy. Her symbols are water and yellow colored items.
As the Hindu Goddess of the river Ganges, Ganga represents purification, wellness and benevolence in the new year. Legend has it Ganga came to earth upon hearing the cries of people who were dying from drought. Shiva divided Ganga into seven streams so she would flood the earth upon her arrival. Part of this stream remained in the heavens as the Milky Way, and the rest flows through India as the river Ganges, where the Goddess lives. Art depicts Ganga as beautiful, controlling the makara (a sea monster on which she stands), with water flowing all around her.

In India, people gather on the river Ganges on this day and bathe in the waters for health, protection and forgiveness from ten sins. They welcome spring’s approach during this festival by wearing yellow clothing and colored food, like rice with saffron.

To adapt this tradition and prompt Ganga’s blessings, wear any yellow-toned stone (like citrine), and/or eat rice as part of any meal. Adapt your shower, tap, bath or lawn sprinkler to substitute for the river Ganges. As you stand beneath the water, visualize any figurative dirt being washed down the drain.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

The Ganges is the most sacred river to Hindus and is also a lifeline to millions of Indians who live along its course and depend on it for their daily needs. The documentary, “Mother Ganga: A journey along the sacred Ganges River” portrays a pilgrimage, starting at the Bay of Bengal where the Ganges enters the sea (Ganga Sagar), to Gangotri and Gomukh in the Himalayan Mountains where the Ganges appears.   This film can be purchased by going to www.gangamovie.com


So central is the Ganga to the Hindu imagination that all sects have an origin story for Her that reflects well on their chosen god. The Great Trinity of Hinduism is intimately associated with Ganga. She is described as the daughter of Brahma, the wife of Shiva, and the actual melted body of Vishnu. This multiplicity of roles happens because no worshipper wanted to feel left out from the saving grace of Ganga. For Ganga’s supreme virtue is that She can save you from sin. One drop of Her sacred waters is enough to wipe out all the sins accumulated over many lifetimes. One single drop of Ganga water on the cremated remains of a sinner is enough to wipe out all his sins and gain him heaven as one popular story goes. There is nobody who is so sinful that he or she cannot be saved by the waters of the Ganga. The Ganga is thus the ultimate in merciful mother Goddesses.

Goddess Ganga is represented as a fair-complexioned woman, wearing a white crown and sitting on a crocodile and is the only living Goddess in the Hindu pantheon. She holds a water lily in Her right hand and a lute in Her left. When shown with four hands she carries a water-pot, a lily, a rosary and has one hand in a protective mode.

Ganga represents the innermost pristine coolness, piety and purity. River Ganga continues to enriches the spiritual lives of millions and millions of Indians for whom the river is divine. The river Ganga itself embodies all the characteristics India is known for: mythical, serene, all pervading and assimilative.

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